TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Starting later this fall, Marymount College of Fordham University Biology Professor Carl Hoegler, Ph.D., will begin using sophisticated computer workstations and a dynamic teaching style to help students conduct professional-level experiments and be-come better researchers and scientists.
“Our students will be empowered to develop themselves scientifically through custom-ized learning,” said Hoegler. “When students take ownership of the project, the learning process is improved.”
Thanks to a $74,312 grant from the National Science Foundation, Marymount students will use eight new workstations to conduct experiments, devising their own research propos-als and forming their own investigational protocols.
For example, a student may decide to conduct a physiology experiment to measure what happens to her heart rate after eating a salami sandwich. Using the workstation, she will develop a hypothesis, conduct an experiment using a heart-rate monitor that feeds into the computer and compile the results. She will then continue to use the station to analyze the data and immediately compare it to other studies available online. Finally, she will develop a PowerPoint presentation at the same workstation and present her findings to her classmates.
In addition to the workstations, the course will incorporate inquiry-based learning; students drive the projects and instructors act as mentors and guides rather than lecturers. For example, rather than only assign specific experiments for replication by the entire class, the professor has students develop their own experiments that have relevance to their lives and
experiences. The approach is considered particularly important in preparing students for the future workplace, where they will need better problem-solving skills in medicine and the bio-technology sector.
Milton Steinberg, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, and Robert Madden, Ph.D., professor of biology, will also be applying this inquiry-based, collaborative-learning approach to their courses.
”I will be a mentor for them,” said Hoegler of his students, “but they will be allowed to fly on their own. And they will learn to shoot for the stars.”